Impact story: Collecting data, building skills

Southampton Hub is a local branch of the national charity, Student Hubs. It has two staff and 100 volunteers. They work in partnership with Southampton University, receiving funding from them as well as from The National Lottery Community Fund, Sport England and BBC Children in Need.

The national charity has a variety of core programmes that run nationally and can be adapted to the local area. Theirs is a ‘double-benefit’ model: communities benefit from programmes and students benefit by gaining key skills for future employability and learning about issues, supporting their mission of ‘active citizens for life’.

Adapting feedback methods

During the pandemic they have been providing online tutoring and tutors have been able to give more individual attention.

Evaluation tools they use include observation and mid-year and end-of-year feedback. They also gather stories, photos and quotes to use as case studies and they have shared success stories on social media platforms.

One of the challenges with using forms or doing online interviews for evaluation is that they have not had the chance to build a rapport with the individual, which would be possible by meeting in person, but could not happen during lockdown.

They have found taking a ‘three-scenario approach’ to collecting feedback helpful. It means they can be flexible for many things including the ways in which they collect data. For example, all volunteers prepared to get feedback either:

  1. from a Google form
  2. an online one-to-one conversation
  3. through a handwritten letter.

Southampton Hub finds that, apart from the importance of getting feedback information so as to improve, one additional attraction of collecting data is that it builds volunteers’ skills which, as students at university, they can transfer.

If you are thinking of doing something similar we suggest you:

  1. Plan how you are going to involve users in your impact practice. Use our quick exercise for deciding how to involve users.
  2. Think about creating multiple ways for people to share what’s on their mind. E.g. via whatsapp, an online form, on call with you etc.
  3. Find out more about running interviews or focus groups with users
  4. Explore how you can make the most of casual conversation. Read Evaluation Support Scotland’s quick guide to capturing casual moments. 

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